For a TV maths whizz, Carol Vorderman has included some remarkably creative statistics in her education report for the Conservatives, which received significant media coverage on Monday. The report, analysed by professional scrutineers Fullfact.org, includes the claim that:
“in the last decade, we have plummeted down the international league tables: from 4th to 16th place in science; and from 8th to 27th in mathematics.”
While the OECD figures underpinning both rankings are correct, the international economics organisation have warned that due to changes in survey methods the figures for 2000 and 2003 are incomparable with more recent data. There was a drop in the UK ranking between 2006 and 2009 – but the rate of decline is much less dramatic than is suggested by Vorderman’s fudged figures.
“the fall for science is from 14th to 16th and for maths is from 25th to 27th – much less severe than the ten year comparison, which the OECD warns against.”
So why would Carol — that bona fide national treasure and dubious advertiser of secured loans — want to make it look like our children are losing their head for figures?
Vorderman’s report praises “time spent on … private tuition” as one of the “cultural differences” that boosts maths attainment in other countries. What she didn’t mention on her morning media rounds, however, was that she owns a private tuition company that sells online maths resources for a profit.
Last month, Michael Gove opened the doors to allow private tutors from another comany, TLC Education Group, into five state secondary schools, offering students extra lessons for £27 a pop.
Doubtless this has not gone unnoticed at Vorderman’s maths school HQ.